Sunday, July 21

You should visit 10 hot travel destinations this new year



1. Andaman Islands

Think of the Andaman Islands as the new Maldives – except much more off-grid. The Indian archipelago consists of 300 uber remote islands characterised by palm-fringed sandy beaches and lush rainforest.

Whereas the Maldives now has hundreds of resorts vying for your attention, the Andamans are only set to get its first luxury resort in March 2018 when the Taj Exotica opens. The 75-villa beachfront hotel will be set on the crescent-shaped Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island, which is perfectly perched between dazzling coral reefs and jungle.

2. Belfast, Northern Ireland

Provided by Evening Standard Limited Titanic Museum in Belfast (Lonely Planet) Belfast has been quietly reinventing itself in a post-Troubles era as a city break destination with clout. Its starring role in HBO phenomenon Game of Thrones no doubt contributed, but the regeneration of its old docklands into the shiny new ‘Titanic Quarter’ has given the city a giant boost. A futuristic fusion of work, study and play – visitors will be most interested in the slick Titanic hotel set in the old ship builders’ headquarters and the architecturally stunning museum, Titanic Belfast.

Throw into the mix a slew of boutique hotel openings and a buzzing restaurant and bar scene and you have yourself quite the weekend away. Belfast is also the obvious launch pad for Northern Ireland’s stunning Causeway Coast, not least the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway.

3. Antwerp, Belgium

If you’re keen on your design, the chances are you’ve already ticked off stylish Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm. But how about Belgium’s dark horse: Antwerp? Forget its reputation as a diamond dealing hub, this city is a treasure trove for creative and packed with chic hotels, cool concept stores and a café culture to rival the best of them.

Book into the eclectic new Hotel Pilar – or try your luck in the city’s best-kept secret, Graanmarkt 13. Part fashion and interiors store, part restaurant and part apartment which you can rent, this ‘home from home’ is something special.

4. Cambridge, England

Cambridge gets more than its fair share of day trippers, but 2018 will mark its transition into chic weekend destination. In addition to a burgeoning tech scene and its attendant food trucks, the city is finally getting a glamorous new hotel, the University Arms, which is reopening after an £80 million renovation by renowned architect John Simpson and in-demand interiors maestro Martin Brudnizki. Throw in another Instagrammable opening, The Tamburlaine, earlier this year and its proximity to London and you have yourself a winner.

5. Belize

Provided by Shutterstock Pier at Maya Beach, Placencia, Belize If you think Tulum’s been overdone, it might be time to turn your attentions to Belize. Inland it might be all Central American jungle, but its Caribbean coastline is quite something and a host of luxury hotel openings in 2018 is sure to set it firmly on the map. In chic Placencia, the Itz’ana resort opens later next year with vintage tropical interiors by New York designer Samuel Amoia, a well-stocked rum bar and an outdoor cevicheria. It joins Turtle Inn, the hotel by Francis Ford Coppola who also owns private island Coral Caye. Leonardo DiCaprio has also taken note of the country’s raw beauty – and no doubt its stunning barrier reef – and is opening an eco-hideaway Blackadore Caye next year.

For a more low key stay, make sure to add charming Caye Caulker to your itinerary.

6. Portugal’s Alentejo region

Portugal has had a real moment in 2017, but that shows no sign of slowing down in 2018 as discerning travellers seek out its still hidden gold. The Algarve continues to reinvent itself and Lisbon and Porto are still rising in popularity, but it’s the unspoilt Alentejo region which will shine next year. Think medieval towns and hilltop castles, whitewashed villages, craggy outcrops, olive groves and a quiet charm – this is slow-paced, sun-drenched Southern European living at its best.

For a rustic luxe stay, book São Lourenço do Barrocal.

7. Valetta, Malta

Malta is one of the great unsung heroes of the Mediterranean, but its capital city Valetta will be thrust into the spotlight next year as the European Capital of Culture 2018. Built in the 16th century by the Knights of St John, the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it happens to be the sunniest city on the continent with 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.

The honey-coloured ancient walls enclose a melting pot of old architecture and contemporary infrastructure, dynamic restaurants, palaces and cathedrals and hotels, including the recently refurbed Phoenicia and Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour.

8. Costa Brava, Spain

Provided by Shutterstock The village of Salvador Dali, in Costa Brava The ‘Wild Coast’ of Spain is finally shrugging off its lager lout reputation and winning over travellers with its clear blue waters, long stretches of sandy beaches, historical sites and charming fishing villages. Head north from Barcelona in Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region and you’ll find yourself on the Costa Brava.

One of the prettiest spots along the way is Cadaques, where whitewashed cottages slope down the hill into a horseshoe bay and the main square is lined with quaint cafes where chefs cook up centuries-old family recipes. It’s also where Salvador Dali had a house for thirty years from 1949.

9. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn has hitherto been one of Eastern Europe’s most underrated cities, but a new direct flight from BA and the juxtaposition of its Old Town and trendy quarters are helping it have its moment. Gothic towers and medieval houses stand alongside the Rotterman Quarter, which is a labyrinth of galleries, independent shops and hip restaurants located in converted industrial buildings.

Make sure you climb the 258 steps of St Olaf’s tower to get a brilliant view of Tallinn’s red rooftops and church spires.

10. Arizona

Scroll through Instagram and you’ll find your feed is overflowing with #desertscapes and cacti from road trips through Arizona. But the 48th state is much more than an Instagram opportunity with rivers, forests, mountains and a mish-mash of shaping cultures from the Native Americans to the Spanish.

If you want to lap up luxury a la Beyoncé and Jay-Z, stay at Sanctuary in Scottsdale, which is set across 53 acres of desert in the foothills of Cambelback Mountain. Desert stays are going to be all the rage in 2018.